Strauss: Eine Alpensinfonie, Op 64; Tod und Verklärung, Op 24

Reviewed on Tue 11 Apr, 2017

Beauties, thrills (heroic trumpets) and – appropriately – highs abound in Mariss Jansons’s unerringly symphonic approach that journeys and paints pictures and does so compellingly.

If I may express a purely personal preference, these are consistently my two favourite Strauss pieces. Alpine Symphony, first on the disc and afforded twenty-two tracks, is as musically observant as it is demonstrably pictorial, Mariss Jansons inspiring wonderfully cultured and vivid playing, the pristine top to bottom balances and graded dynamics captured superbly by expert engineering. Beauties, thrills (heroic trumpets) and – appropriately – highs abound in Jansons’s unerringly symphonic approach that journeys and paints pictures and does so compellingly. Although the much-earlier-composed Death and Transfiguration is placed second, it is no less a masterpiece – brooding, railing, bittersweet, majestic in crossing over – and once again Jansons sees the music whole without underplaying any one episode. Both accounts can be shortlisted as a distinguished library version (straight to the summit); that they share a disc makes for a special release to confirm ‘great orchestra’ status and Bavarian Radio’s fidelity-conscious way of recording.
–Colin Anderson